Toro Coffee

The Toro Coffee logo, taken from the sign outside the shop on Pollockshaws Road.Toro Coffee burst onto Glasgow’s speciality coffee scene (specifically the Southside) in September, becoming an instant hit, partly thanks to the efforts of cheerleader-in-chief, my friend Charlotte. Indeed, when I popped over to Glasgow last week, Charlotte’s plan for the morning was “we’re going to Toro”. Not, “would you like to go to Toro?”. No, we were going. On the other hand, Charlotte has excellent taste in coffee shops, so I wasn’t about to disagree.

Other than the coffee, the main draw is the wonderful, friendly and welcoming owners, Ross and Gill. Although a new name, Toro has good pedigree: Ross’ big brother, Iain, owns Primal Roast, one of my favourite Glasgow breakfast spots (and also home to some excellent coffee).

Although there’s a wide selection of cakes, plus toast for breakfast (as if I needed any further encouragement) Toro’s main focus is the coffee. It’s a multi-roaster, offering separate options on espresso and filter, the later available as batch-brew through the ever-reliable Moccamaster, and as pour-over, using hand-thrown ceramic Kalita-wave style filters. The espresso changes every week, while the filter is swapped every day or two, with roasters drawn from just down the road to half way across Europe.

You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.

  • On Polliockshaws Road, on Glasgow's Southside, you'll find Toro Coffee...
  • ... on the ground floor of a long row of Glasgow tenements.
  • The sign, by the way, is a bit of a giveway...
  • ... as is the A-board.
  • Let's go in.
  • The view from just inside the door.
  • Meanwhile, to the left, there's the broad window seat.
  • Next, on the left-hand side, comes the modest counter...
  • ... seen here from the door.
  • Looking the other way, this is Charlotte and her table (although most of the mess is mine).
  • There's more seating towards the back...
  • ... starting with this sofa and its pair of armchairs on the right.
  • Beyond this, the room narrows, giving way to the rear section...
  • ... where most of the tables are.
  • The uncluttered rear section of Toro Coffee. I love the tiled floor.
  • This four-person table, complete with bench, is against the right-hand wall...
  • ... while there are two more tables, two-person this time, on the left.
  • Finally, in the back corner, there's this L-shaped seating unit...
  • ... made of cushions and old pallets.
  • The view back towards the counter from the seating at the back.
  • Much of Toro is upcycled, including this table at the back...
  • ... and this one by the sofa on the right.
  • Coffee bloggers. You can't take them anywhere: look at that mess!
  • Toro has very much gone with the bull theme. This fellow stands above the retail shelf.
  • Meanwhile, I spotted this one on the front of the counter.
  • Nice to see that Toro has a back-up grinder, just in case...
  • I appreciated the various signs on the walls.
  • This one requires a little thought...
  • ... with this one dispenses with words altogether.
  • It's all a load of bull...
  • Naturally I was drawn to the awesome light-fittings.
  • Last one, I promise.
  • Down to business.
  • The simple menu is to the right of the counter...
  • ... which is where you'll also find the cakes and pastries.
  • Looking good!
  • If I hadn't been promised toast for breakfast, I'd have been mighty tempted by these.
  • Talking of toast, if you really like the bread, you can buy a loaf to take home.
  • The espresso machine. Am I alone in thinking it looks like a microwave?
  • Today's coffee (although the filter had just changed when we arrived).
  • The pour-over is to the left of the espresso machine...
  • ... while batch-brew, through the Moccamaster, is on a shelf behind the counter...
  • ... where you'll also find the decaf (from Gatehouse Coffee Roasters).
  • And if you don't fancy any of that, there's always tea!
  • I, however, wanted it all, so went for the coffee flight: espresso, flat white & filter...
  • ... seen here from above.
  • Awesome lasting power in the latte art by the way...
  • ... the milk holding the pattern right to the bottom of the glass.
  • Charlotte, hand-modelling for my filter coffee (and taking the photo).
  • And finally: toast!
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Speciality coffee is, it seems, booming on Glasgow’s Southside, the opening of Toro Coffee extending its reach into Pollockshaws, specifically to the eastern edge of the Pollock Country Park. Occupying the ground floor of a row of typical sandstone tenements on what is essentially a residential street, Toro’s all-white front certainly stands out against the red stone. There’s a recessed door on the right, while the rest is given over to three windows, two narrow and one large, running almost floor-to-ceiling.

Toro (Italian and Spanish for bull) goes strongly with the bull theme in both décor and signage. The large windows, combined with a south-facing aspect, makes for a bright, welcoming interior, with plenty of natural light, even at the back, where you’ll find most of the seating. The front, in contrast, has largely been left open, a modest counter on the left, with seating on the right and along the window sill at the front, which is broad enough to support four large, square cushions. The sense is space is enhanced both by the relative lack of furniture and by the lovely, high ceilings.

A long, thin, high four-person table with stools stands immediately to the right of the door. This, I quickly learnt, is Charlotte’s table. Following that, after a small retail shelf, comes a sofa, flanked by a pair of comfortable chairs, after which Toro narrows slightly on the right, denoting the start of the rear section. Here there’s a little more seating, but it’s still not what I would call cluttered. On the right, a wooden bench lines the wall, a four-person table in front of it, while on the left, there are a pair of long, narrow, two-person tables. Finally, in the back, left-hand corner, there’s an L-shaped set of four comfortable chairs made of old pallets and cushions (which look far more comfortable than I am making them sound).

When it comes to coffee, Toro is a true multi-roaster. I just missed some Gardelli from Italy (on the day before) while there was some Has Bean on later in the week. However, during my visit, both the espresso (a Colombian Caldas) and the filter (a Kenyan Gondo AA) were from local roasters, The Good Coffee Cartel, who often feature on Toro’s menu.

Naturally I wanted to try both, and fortunately, Toro offers a tasting flight which lets you do just that, with an espresso, flat white and batch-brew. I paired this with the aforementioned toast for breakfast, a lovely crunchy sourdough, toasted to perfection, which I smothered in butter and jam.

As good as that was, the coffee was even better. The Colombian Caldas made for a great espresso, well-rounded and just as well-balanced. I thoroughly enjoyed it on its own, while in milk, it made for a really sweet flat white with a biscuit-like taste.

The Kenyan Gondo AA provided a real contrast. Not your typical Kenyan, it had a mellow, fruity flavour which I slowly realised was tomato. This was even more evident when Ross gave me some beans to smell. I don’t think I’ve ever had a coffee that smells and tastes of tomatoes before and, while I’m not sure I’d want to drink it every day, just the fact that coffee can taste of tomatoes pretty much made my day!

December 2018: Toro Coffee was a runner-up for the 2018 Happiest Staff Award.

Monday 07:30 – 15:00 Roaster Guests (espresso + filter)
Tuesday 07:30 – 15:00 Seating Tables, Window-bench
Wednesday 07:30 – 15:00 Food Toast, Cake
Thursday 07:30 – 15:00 Service Order at Counter
Friday 07:30 – 15:00 Cards Amex, Mastercard, Visa
Saturday 09:00 – 15:00 Wifi Free (with code)
Sunday 10:00 – 16:00 Power No
Chain No Visits 13th December 2018

Liked this Coffee Spot? Then check out the rest of Glasgow’s speciality coffee scene with the Coffee Spot Guide to Glasgow.

You can also see what Charlotte, in her new blog, Coffee All The Way, made of Toro.

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